Updates Regarding Worship

Dear Celebration Family,

March 15 marked the last time we gathered together for worship in person…7 weeks ago. Since then, we have fully shifted to online worship and virtual fellowship gatherings…from happy hour, to trivia, to the Netflix watch party happening this Wednesday).

From the outset, please know you are genuinely missed and I truly yearn for the day in which we can gather together again.

As I mentioned on Sunday, we talk a lot about how the church is more than a building, but I also have come to recognize there is something deeply life-giving about worshipping together in person.

However, for the continued future we will remain worshipping online only. Although Governor Abbott has granted churches the ability to gather together again, the reality for Harris county calls for us to pause in doing so.

Our synodical leaders have put together a helpful document to help guide us in when we can gather again. You can find that letter here.

This outline works alongside the document “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again” which was released on April 16th.

The ministry team continues to meet weekly to plan for our current reality while still dreaming for the future. We are working on the necessary plans for what worship will look like when we gather together again. This will happen in phases as outlined by the synod’s recommendations.

Our current reality has resulted in significant changes. Many have been furloughed or lost their jobs entirely. Some have lost loved ones and are forced to delay funerals and memorial services. Some are spending more time than they ever imagined with their loved ones.

Please know you are not alone in this journey. I genuinely believe we are at our best when we are the church together. Lean on your loved ones. Lean on your church family. Lean on your faith in a God who never abandons you and will always walk alongside you.

As Pastor Chris concluded in his sermon on Sunday, “The God of the universe has chosen to enter our humanity and accompany us through all the hills and valleys of life. And this God has overcome death and the grave. It’s what Easter is all about. And it’s what makes the shepherd good.”

God’s grace and peace be with you all,

Pastor Ryan Dockery

Worship Via Facebook Live

In a week of new norms, rhythms, and routines, tomorrow we will still gather for worship at 9:30 am.

We will worship via Facebook Live. A reminder you do not need a Facebook account to join in for worship. Simply click this link.

There are also opportunities to connect before and after worship tomorrow.

Around 9:00 am, we will have “coffee hour”. This is an opportunity for you to check-in, or test Facebook Live if you’ve never used it.

Following worship (roughly 10 am), we will open up zoom for learning curve. Again, this is an opportunity to reflect on the sermon, your week, or wherever else the spirit is guiding you.
The link for the post-worship zoom is HERE.

God’s blessing on you all,
Pastor Ryan

 

How We Gather Together

Below is a description of the several ways in which we will gather for the next few weeks. Included with the description, are dates, times and links for every gathering.

Please note, these links are only for this week. I will send out a weekly email on Monday with the links for that week. You can also find the links through the church calendar.

Simply click on the event and you will find the link for the zoom gathering in the description.

Wednesday Lenten Study – 6:30pm

We continue our mid-week lenten study, Animate Practices, exploring various ways in which we live out our faith through: Prayer, Food, Service, Money, & Worship.

Just click the Zoom link below and if you need the software it will help you download it. Once you’ve downloaded it, you will be taken directly to the meeting. This program uses the camera and microphone on your phone/tablet/computer and it truly is easy to use. (More instructions are below, but you probably will not need them, as it is that easy!)

Tonight’s topic: Money
Time: March 18, 2020 6:30pm
Click this link: https://zoom.us/j/726244582
Meeting ID: 726 244 582

Digital Office Hours

Pastor Ryan will host digital office hours a few times a week, typically from 11a-1p. There will also be a weekly happy hour for those still heading in to work. It is obviously BYOB for the weekly happy hour 😉 

With both of these gatherings, you can show up when you want, for as long as you want. There are no set parameters other than providing a space and place for us to connect.

You can swing by just to say hi, or see Emmett. Or if you are an extrovert and are missing being around people. The options are endless, but I would love to connect with you!

Wednesday:
March 18 from 11a-1p
https://zoom.us/j/317146201
Meeting ID: 317 146 201


Thursday:
March 19 from 10a-12p
https://zoom.us/j/876255717
Meeting ID: 876 255 717


Friday:
March 20 – DIGITAL HAPPY HOUR from 4p-6p
https://zoom.us/j/338685207
Meeting ID: 338 685 207

 

How to Install and Use Zoom

First, Zoom is a FREE program for you to use. It can be used on any smartphone, PC, Mac, or Tablet.

Instructions for computer users:

  1. Just click any of the Zoom links above. If you need the small software package, it will help you download it. Once you’ve downloaded it, you will be taken directly to the meeting. This program uses the camera and microphone on your computer and it is truly easy to use.
  2. You decide how much to share. You can share audio only, or you can share audio and video. Be sure your microphone volume is turned up!

Instructions for smart phone or tablet users:

  1. Go to your “store,” Google Play, App Store, etc. Download the free program, Zoom.
  2. After it downloads, click the new Zoom program to open it.
  3. Create an account and type in the meeting ID # provided.

Test Chat

If you would like to test out zoom before tonight’s gathering, feel free to hop on earlier than 6:30. Pastor Ryan will be on around 6 to hang out with while others gather.

You can also join any digital office hours to test out zoom and drop by to say hi.

A Letter From The Council Of Elders – 3.17.20

Dear Celebration Family,

Ministry Update.jpg

Thank you for being flexible as we continue to adapt and rethink what it means to be church together.

The Council of Elders met last night to discuss the ways in which we will act and respond going forward. This conversation included guidance from our local synod office as well as the CDC and other health officials.

Here is what to expect:

  1. All in-person worship, meetings, and activities will be suspended through the end of March.
  2. We will utilize Facebook Live to stream worship at 9:30am on Sunday mornings.
  3. We will utilize Zoom (a video conference software) for a variety of purposes:
    • To meet for Wednesday’s Lenten Service.
    • To gather for Small Groups and Learning Curve.
      – Small Groups will occur at their scheduled dates and times.
      – Learning Curve will take place immediately following worship. It will be an intentional time to check-in with one another.
    • Pastor Ryan will host open digital “Office Hours” several times throughout the week.
  4. The Council of Elders will routinely check in on members of Celebration as a form of caring for others.
  5. We will experiment with a variety of opportunities to stay connected beyond the walls of the church building.

 

Our greatest hope is staying connected.

In a follow up letter, you will receive instructions on how to access Facebook Live and Zoom, as well as additional dates, times, and links for everything Zoom related.

(An important note: You do not need a Facebook account to stream the service).

We will continue to provide updates and opportunities to connect through email, Facebook, and the website. In the meantime, we leave you with this prayer:

O God, where hearts are fearful and constricted, grant courage and hope. Where anxiety is infectious and widening, grant peace and reassurance. Where impossibilities close every door and window, grant imagination and resistance. Where distrust twists our thinking, grant healing and illumination. Where spirits are daunted and weakened, grant soaring wings and strengthened dreams. All these things we ask in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen.

God’s Peace and Blessing,

Pastor Ryan Dockery

New Year – New Giving Platform

Thank you for your regular giving to Celebration Church each month. Your generosity allows us to Celebrate Christ, Care For Others, and Serve The World. Thank you so much!

We are excited to announce that we have a new giving platform. The new giving platform is called Tithely. It will be replacing our current online giving method Vanco.Slide03

You may be wondering why we made this change.

For the last year, we’ve been looking for an alternate solution to our former platform. We wanted a tool that enhanced the process for our current givers and was comfortable for first-time users. We know your time is valuable, and we want to honor that.

We also know that there are many worthy organizations and causes people can support financially. We are grateful for every single one of you, and we want to ensure we are good stewards of your money and resources. Tithely offers low licensing and processing fees, allowing us to stretch each gift as far as possible.

Many of you have already set up repeat giving with Vanco, and have an active user profile on the platform, which will be discontinued soon. We want to ensure that the transition to our new platform is smooth. Please help us out by taking the two steps below before Saturday, February 29, 2020.

1) Click this link, or go to our website: click2celebrate.com/donate/, and set up your repeat giving.

2) If you are set up for automatic gifts, go to Vanco here and cancel your old repeat giving (If you have an active profile, but you only use the one-time gift feature, no further action is required).

Slide16

 

Lastly, I encourage you to download the Tithe.ly App. It is available on both Apple and Android phones. You can set up reoccurring giving right from your fingertips or look at your latest giving statement.

 

If you need help, contact Pastor Ryan at (979)966-8484 or Pastor@click2celebrate.com and he will respond as soon as possible.

Thank you for your incredible generosity and your contribution to the work of the church! 

Pastor Ryan Dockery

Just a thought…

On the last Saturday of January, the Council of Elders gathered together to dream, assess our values as a congregation, ask big questions, grow deeper in relationship with one another, and answer the question of what we hope to accomplish as a congregation this year.

This dedicated group consists of Rob Shank, Mary Gutierrez, Eric Draper, Amber Harbolt, Cindy Scanland, and Carolyn Draper.

To guide our work, we spent a good amount of time identifying our values personally, as a Council of Elders, and as a congregation. From a list of 52, we narrowed down to 6 Core Values (although some were merged together). This does not say we ONLY value these 6, but at the core these are the driving forces for the congregation.

 

6 Core Values:

  1. Inclusivity/Diversity: Embracing a wide variety of individuals; for example, people of different nationalities, ethnicities, languages, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations and sexuality, and religious backgrounds.
  2. Hospitality/Serving/Community: Living together with mutual support, interdependence, and fellowship. Helping other and caring for those in need. Being intentionally welcoming, especially of guests and strangers.
  3. Joyful/Playful: Being lighthearted, spirited and good humored; unlikely to take oneself too seriously.
  4. Creativity/Innovation: Being willing to explore new ideas and new ways of doing things. Valuing out-of-the-box thinking and problem solving.
  5. Justice/Activism: Working to reduce human suffering and need; recognizing and responding to inequality, unfairness and partiality.
  6. Simplicity: Believing less is more; avoiding luxury, pretentiousness or complication.

 

Using these 6 core values, we then asked the question what do we hope to accomplish in the year 2019. Several big ideas brew out of this:

  1. A continued and deepened partnership with local ministries/organizations (Cypress Assistance Ministries, Bethesda, Teen Life Center, Holmsley Elementary)
  2. To identify and partner with a local LGBTQIA+ organization at Lone Star College and local high schools.
  3. Launch small groups after Easter.
  4. Launch Pub Theology: This event will occur on the 1st Thursday of every month beginning in April. Pub Theology is a low-key gathering of faith-based conversation while enjoying a pint of beer, wine of glass, or a cup of coffee. We will rotate between various local pubs each month.
  5. Host Financial Peace University for the community in the Fall.

 

There are several other exciting things to come out of this retreat. You will continue to hear more about it in the coming weeks.

I am excited about the work that was done last weekend, but even more so about witnessing us come together to live it out as we continue to grow passionate followers of Jesus by:
CELEBRATING CHRIST
CARING FOR OTHERS
SERVING THE WORLD

 

God’s Peace,

Pastor Ryan Dockery

From the Pastor

Now that was holy! What a meaningful, delight-filled Holy Week. It was a pleasure to travel with you all through the wilderness of Lent into the sacred Triduum – the three day Passion of Christ.

*Maundy Thursday Sacred Meal

 

On Maundy Thursday, we gathered around beautiful tables of grace. We shared bread and scripture, wine and laughter. It was truly a delight to remember our sacred story, the story of our salvation, told by all the people gathered around the table. Thank you to all who were present, all who prepared food, and helped to bring this Sacred Meal to life

 

 

 

*Good Friday

Good Friday took a solemn turn. We gathered around the barren altar to pray, sing, read and linger in the hollowness of grief. We joined the ancient church in Solemn Reproach – hearing Jesus cry out, “O my people, O my church, what have I done to you? How have I offended you?” The same story of Salvation that we celebrated on MaundyThursday, became a reminder of our separation from God.

 

 

 

*Easter Sunday

 

Death does not have the final word! Sunday morning brought Good News of Resurrection and new life. We celebrate that we are an Easter people! In her book, The Three Day Feast, Gail Ramshaw expresses it like this, “Christians keep Easter in a big way because the death and resurrection of Christ keeps us.” Yes indeed! We celebrated this Good News with doughnuts and candy-filled eggs and each-other.

 

 

Thank you for this holy week. Experiences like this make me even more grateful for the time we have shared. Our family is grateful for all the ways you have shared the love of Christ with us. As my call with Celebration comes to a close, I look forward to sharing even more meaningful moments with you all. And I am sure, in the month to come, we will continue to join Mary Magdalene’s proclamation, “I have seen the Lord!”

Easter Blessings!

Pastor Jen

 

 

From the Pastor

Just + Love Series

God certainly has a sense of humor. This year, Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day and we celebrate Easter on April Fool’s Day! Nothing says romance like being smeared with ask; and I can’t help but imagine Jesus plotting the most epic April Fool’s prank with the empty tomb. All heresy aside, while it might not set the most contrite tone for Lent, it does put a fresh bent on our ancient rituals.  If you’re curious how this happened, take a look at these articles from USA Today  and Snopes.

No matter what holidays bookend the season of Lent, our invitation is still the same: Return to the Lord our God. The Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are tangible ways in which we return to God. When the world clutters our priority list, Lent invites us to declutter and simplify so that God might rise to the top of our priorities, again.

Throughout this season of Lent, we will explore God’s invitation for simple living:

The Prophet Micah declares, “He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8).

Jesus offers the same invitation in another way, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-39).

Do Justice, Love Kindness, Walk Humbly.
 Love God, Love Neighbor.
 Just + Love.

God’s invitation for simple, wholehearted living is Just + Love.

Just + Love is lived out in relationship, community and social justice. Throughout the season of Lent, we will delve into several social justice issues that are close to home and especially relevant in our world today: Criminal Justice, Peace, Race, Ethnicity and Culture and Human Sexuality. Our parent denomination, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has published several Social Statements that connect biblical teachings with Christian practice. With these statements as our guide, we will learn from community leaders and partner organization.

I invite you into this season of Lent, to the holy practices and holy rhythms of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. A season of discovery, meaningful conversation and Just + Love.
Come, let us return to the Lord.

Pastor Jen

From the Pastor

Wait for it. Wait for it. This Sunday, December 3rd marks the beginning of Advent, a season of holy longing. With Christians around the world, we eagerly anticipate the birth of Christ.  We prepare room for Jesus – in our daily lives, in our homes, in our relationships. This is an active waiting filled with hope and great joy. And when Christmas finally comes, it’s worth the wait.

As you and yours wait faithfully, there’s no need to sit idly and twiddle your thumbs. Think of these as holy possibilities, not holy obligations. I commend to you this Active Advent Calendar. It contains a list of reflections and activities that embrace the waiting and help you prepare for the birth of Jesus.  If you’re a rule follower, you can begin today, December 1 and continue through to Christmas. If you’re a rebel, I dare you to meander throughout, pick your favorites, change up the order, do what you will. Either way, I hope that this time of active waiting will create space in your life so that Christ might manger with you.

Advent Blessings!

Pastor Jen

 

ACTION! ADVENT CALENDAR

  1. Create space for your nativity, as you set it out take a moment to retell the story. Don’t have a nativity? Ask Pastor Jen to help you make one or find one.
  1. Make a list of 10 things that bring you HOPE.
  2. Keep awake! What makes you tired or bored. How might you be more awake to God at work in these things?
  3. Wake up 10 minutes early, use the time to execute a Random Act of Kindness.
  4. Contribute toward the Christmas Food Bag collection for our friends at Holmsley Elementary.
  5. Read about Christ the Light (John 1:1-5) then go for a walk in or around your neighborhood and look at Christmas lights.
  6. Make a homemade card for someone and hand deliver it.
  7. Introduce yourself to a neighbor that you have never met before.
  8. Make a list of 10 places that bring you PEACE.
  9. Prepare the way of the Lord! What might it look like for you to prepare Christ room in your home and your heart?
  10. Buy some water, coffee, cocoa, snacks, etc. to give to people you meet on the street.
  11. Read Luke’s Nativity Story (Luke 2:1-20) then retell the story in your own words.
  12. Find 5 things that you could do without and donate them.
  13. Read a newspaper or watch the news, then pray for all the places that need peace in our world.
  14. Sit still for 5 minutes and imagine what peace looks like.
  15. Make a list of 10 things that bring you JOY.
  16. Do not be afraid! Think about what makes you afraid. Is it realistic? How does it hold you back from living fully?
  17. Bake some treats for Bethesda’s Cocoa & Cookies gathering, then come mingle.
  18. Read Matthew’s Nativity Story (Matthew 1:18-2:12) then retell the story in your own words.
  19. Buy something you’d really like to have for yourself and give it away.
  20. Give $5 to someone who looks like they could use a little joy and love.
  21. Create some paper snow-flakes and hang them up for others to enjoy.
  22. Make a list of 10 people who taught you how to LOVE.
  23. Let your soul Magnify the Lord. Find a Christmas Eve Worship to attend with your people.
  24. Sing Happy Birthday to Jesus!

 

From the Pastor

 

HOORAY

 

It’s Annual Meeting time, hooray! No really, it’s a delight to do this holy work – the work of being church together. While some may dread this ‘business’ of the church, we honor it as holy work ordained by God. On November 1, we gathered for the first part of our Annual Meeting, the Congregational Forum. This was a time to review the past year and to discuss possibilities for the future. And now we look to the second phase, the Congregational Meeting slated for Sunday, November 12. This portion of the meeting is intentionally nestled in the heart of 9:30a worship to remind us that the work we do is sacred. We’ll take a look back through 2017 and look with hope into 2018. You should come, it won’t be that bad.

Around this time, we also hear our annual reminder of our guiding principles and firm foundation. These are the core commitments that draw us together as a community and keep us focused.

We are a community committed to:

  • Celebrating Christ through worship, music, ritual and the creative arts.
  • Caring for Others through fellowship, learning and pastoral care, primarily within the context of small groups.
  • Serving the World through community organizing and development, social outreach, and environmental stewardship.

We stand firmly on Our Foundation:

  • Simple: We do only those things that accomplish God’s purpose for our church.
  • Great: We will be the best at what God is calling us to be.
  • Emergent: We will celebrate God in the rhythms, rites and practices of the ancient church while seeking God in current movements and future stirrings.

We make choices based on these Guiding Principles:

  • Jesus is Lord.
  • God shows up in the most surprising and unexpected ways.
  • Jesus welcomes everyone.
  • Innovation is good for God’s Church.
  • It’s not about us!

We Believe the Best!

We are a Believe the Best Community. There is often a gap between what we expect and what we experience. When this happens, we can choose to fill the gap with BELIEVING THE BEST or ASSUMING THE WORST. Believing the Best is based on trust and goodwill. Assuming the Worst is based on distrust and suspicion. As a community, we commit to Believing the Best – of our God, of ourselves and of others. Guided by trust and goodwill – our community reveals the Kingdom of God here on earth.

There you have it. This is who we are as a community of faith. Let’s celebrate this holy work that God has called us to do.

Hooray!

Pastor Jen